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District chief remembered by former student

Photo courtesy Ryan LeBlanc
District Chief Bob Leek, centre, is remembered by former student Ryan LeBlanc as a mentor who always had time for his students, his friends and his colleagues.

Aug. 10, 2008, Toronto -The Toronto Fire Services district chief who died Sunday while surveying damage from a massive propane explosion, was a warm and giving man who always found time to help young recruits. Ryan LeBlanc, a former student of Chief Leek’s and a longtime friend, shares his memories of his mentor.

August 11, 2008
By Ryan LeBlanc

I am writing in regards to the tragic death of Toronto Fire Services District
Chief Bob Leek, who died in the line of duty on
10, 2008

In this
e-mail I will attempt to summarize my experiences with Chief Leek and that you
may be able to use some of these words to honour him, as he deserves.

Bob was
my friend, teacher, and mentor. I first met him in 1998 when I was a
co-operative education student with the Toronto Fire Services. I was assigned
to the
Fire Academy, where Bob was assigned. Bob was
one of the most knowledgeable instructors at the Academy, and was an excellent
communicator of very complex ideas. He was tasked with teaching about fire
service hydraulics and fire pumps, two of the more difficult subject areas. Bob
made learning as easy as it could have been and had such a clear understanding
of all subject material. Most of the lessons he taught were backed up with real
life stories, thus giving an increased depth of understanding to his students.


One of
my cherished memories of my graduation ceremony is a picture of Bob, another
student, and I together. I always looked upon it as a great teacher with two of
his most dedicated and loyal students. When I was no longer under Bob's
command, as a student, his door remained wide open to me.

was one instance where I sought out Bob's guidance. Without hesitation he
glanced at his schedule and invited me to his office. He was busy learning the
ropes of a new assignment, having recently been promoted, yet he deliberately
set aside time for me so we could chat.

Bob was
always a selfless man who did whatever he could to help people. Bob's passion
for helping others was only rivalled by his knowledge and expertise. The
combination of the two set him apart, not only in the fire service but among

When I
accepted a job with Toronto
EMS he was delighted for me. He
wasn't disappointed, as I had feared, that I had chosen a different line of
work and not continued as a firefighter. He was happy for me in that I was
doing a noble job that made me happy. We both were assigned to Fire &
EMS Headquarters. I would
periodically use my meal and break periods to seek out Bob, just to chat and
say hello. Whenever I saw him, through the glass wall in the communications
centre, I would try and figure out a way to get over there just to say hello. I
consider it an honour and privilege to have known Bob and to call him my
friend. He was a genuine, good man, which there are not nearly enough of in
this world.

current assignment was the District Chief of Emergency Planning. On August 10th
he could have easily given his tasks in the field to another individual.
Instead Bob chose to aid in field operations. He died doing what he loved so
much, helping other people. He is deserving of a special place of honour and
respect among the people of
Toronto. I find myself mourning the loss
of such a good man, and a friend. I am a better man because of my experiences
with Chief Leek. The citizens of
Toronto deserve to know what kind of man
died in the line of duty, while coming to the aid of those who couldn't help




Training Officer

Toronto Emergency Medical Services